Summary: The family Sturnidae, in the order PASSERIFORMES. The starling family also includes mynahs and oxpeckers.

Top Publications

  1. Asher L, Bateson M. Use and husbandry of captive European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) in scientific research: a review of current practice. Lab Anim. 2008;42:111-26 pubmed publisher
    We reviewed the use of captive European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) in scientific research published between 2000 and 2004...
  2. Bialek W, Cavagna A, Giardina I, Mora T, Silvestri E, Viale M, et al. Statistical mechanics for natural flocks of birds. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012;109:4786-91 pubmed publisher
    ..the minimally structured (maximum entropy) model consistent with experimental correlations in large flocks of starlings. The maximum entropy model shows that local, pairwise interactions between birds are sufficient to correctly ..
  3. George I, Cousillas H, Richard J, Hausberger M. New insights into the auditory processing of communicative signals in the HVC of awake songbirds. Neuroscience. 2005;136:1-14 pubmed
    ..proportion of responsive sites and their response features in the vocal control nucleus HVC of awake-restrained starlings, a species with multiple song types...
  4. Lovette I, Rubenstein D. A comprehensive molecular phylogeny of the starlings (Aves: Sturnidae) and mockingbirds (Aves: Mimidae): congruent mtDNA and nuclear trees for a cosmopolitan avian radiation. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2007;44:1031-56 pubmed
    We generated a comprehensive phylogeny for the avian families Sturnidae (starlings, mynas, Rhabdornis, oxpeckers, and allies) and Mimidae (mockingbirds, thrashers, and allies) to explore patterns of morphological and behavioral ..
  5. Heimovics S, Riters L. Breeding-context-dependent relationships between song and cFOS labeling within social behavior brain regions in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Horm Behav. 2006;50:726-35 pubmed
    Male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) sing throughout the year, but the social factors that motivate singing behavior differ depending upon the context in which song is produced...
  6. Schroeder M, Riters L. Pharmacological manipulations of dopamine and opioids have differential effects on sexually motivated song in male European starlings. Physiol Behav. 2006;88:575-84 pubmed
    ..This study examined a possible role for dopamine and opioids in sexually motivated song in male European starlings. The dopamine reuptake inhibitor GBR-12909 increased singing behavior, whereas the D1 dopamine receptor ..
  7. George I, Cousillas H, Richard J, Hausberger M. A potential neural substrate for processing functional classes of complex acoustic signals. PLoS ONE. 2008;3:e2203 pubmed publisher
    ..Given the many parallels that exist between birdsong and speech, these results may contribute to a better understanding of the neural bases of speech...
  8. Shapiro M, Siller S, Kacelnik A. Simultaneous and sequential choice as a function of reward delay and magnitude: normative, descriptive and process-based models tested in the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris). J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 2008;34:75-93 pubmed publisher
    The authors analyze prevalent theoretical and empirical quantitative models of choice using data from European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)...
  9. Strochlic D, Romero L. The effects of chronic psychological and physical stress on feather replacement in European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2008;149:68-79 pubmed
    ..European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) were exposed to chronic psychological stress or food restriction for three weeks of the ..

More Information


  1. Colles F, McCarthy N, Howe J, Devereux C, Gosler A, Maiden M. Dynamics of Campylobacter colonization of a natural host, Sturnus vulgaris (European starling). Environ Microbiol. 2009;11:258-67 pubmed publisher
    Wild European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) shed Campylobacter at high rates, suggesting that they may be a source of human and farm animal infection...
  2. Ubuka T, Cadigan P, Wang A, Liu J, Bentley G. Identification of European starling GnRH-I precursor mRNA and its seasonal regulation. Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2009;162:301-6 pubmed publisher
    ..Finer-scale investigation into temporal regulation of GnRH-I precursor polypeptide mRNA will provide insight into its regulation by environmental, social and physiological cues...
  3. Thompson J, Gentner T. Song recognition learning and stimulus-specific weakening of neural responses in the avian auditory forebrain. J Neurophysiol. 2010;103:1785-97 pubmed publisher
    ..Here, we examine experience-dependent plasticity in European starlings, a songbird with rich acoustic communication signals tied to robust, natural recognition behaviors...
  4. Feenders G, Klaus K, Bateson M. Fear and exploration in European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris): a comparison of hand-reared and wild-caught birds. PLoS ONE. 2011;6:e19074 pubmed publisher
    ..Previously, we have shown that hand-reared starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) indeed exhibit reduced fear of humans compared to wild-caught conspecifics...
  5. Heimovics S, Salvante K, Sockman K, Riters L. Individual differences in the motivation to communicate relate to levels of midbrain and striatal catecholamine markers in male European starlings. Horm Behav. 2011;60:529-39 pubmed publisher
    ..norepinephrine and their metabolites in micropunched samples from VTA, GCt, and area X in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)...
  6. Aw J, Monteiro T, Vasconcelos M, Kacelnik A. Cognitive mechanisms of risky choice: is there an evaluation cost?. Behav Processes. 2012;89:95-103 pubmed publisher
    ..Here we test this model in risky choices. In two treatments, each with five conditions, European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) faced choices between options with unpredictable outcomes and risk-free alternatives...
  7. Henry L, Bourguet C, Coulon M, Aubry C, Hausberger M. Sharing mates and nest boxes is associated with female "friendship" in European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris. J Comp Psychol. 2013;127:1-13 pubmed publisher
    ..Aggressive interactions between females were rare. Vocal sharing between females may have been a clue for males as to the degree of social integration of these females...
  8. Lucas F, Moureau B, Jourdie V, Heeb P. Brood size modifications affect plumage bacterial assemblages of European starlings. Mol Ecol. 2005;14:639-46 pubmed
    ..on feather bacterial densities and the structure of bacterial assemblages on feathers in adult European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris, and in vitro feather degradation...
  9. Alger S, Maasch S, Riters L. Lesions to the medial preoptic nucleus affect immediate early gene immunolabeling in brain regions involved in song control and social behavior in male European starlings. Eur J Neurosci. 2009;29:970-82 pubmed publisher
    ..IEGs) zenk (aka egr-1) and c-fos (indirect markers of neuronal activity) in sham and POM-lesioned male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)...
  10. Freidin E, Aw J, Kacelnik A. Sequential and simultaneous choices: testing the diet selection and sequential choice models. Behav Processes. 2009;80:218-23 pubmed publisher
    We investigate simultaneous and sequential choices in starlings, using Charnov's Diet Choice Model (DCM) and Shapiro, Siller and Kacelnik's Sequential Choice Model (SCM) to integrate function and mechanism...
  11. Feenders G, Bateson M. Hand-rearing reduces fear of humans in European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris. PLoS ONE. 2011;6:e17466 pubmed publisher
    ..We compared the response of hand-reared and wild-caught starlings to the presence of a human in the laboratory...
  12. De Groof G, Verhoye M, Poirier C, Leemans A, Eens M, Darras V, et al. Structural changes between seasons in the songbird auditory forebrain. J Neurosci. 2009;29:13557-65 pubmed publisher
    The song control system (SCS) of seasonal songbirds shows remarkable seasonal plasticity. Male starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) sing throughout the year, but in the breeding season, when concentrations of testosterone are elevated, the song ..
  13. Freidin E, Kacelnik A. Rational choice, context dependence, and the value of information in European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Science. 2011;334:1000-2 pubmed publisher
    ..In an experiment with starlings, adding cues that identified the context impaired performance in simultaneous prey choices but improved it in ..
  14. Heimovics S, Riters L. Evidence that dopamine within motivation and song control brain regions regulates birdsong context-dependently. Physiol Behav. 2008;95:258-66 pubmed publisher
    ..synthesis) and song produced within versus outside of a breeding context were explored in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)...
  15. Vasconcelos M, Monteiro T, Kacelnik A. Context-dependent preferences in starlings: linking ecology, foraging and choice. PLoS ONE. 2013;8:e64934 pubmed publisher
    ..We use European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) to integrate ecological reasoning with decision models, linking and testing hypotheses for ..
  16. Sockman K, Salvante K. The integration of song environment by catecholaminergic systems innervating the auditory telencephalon of adult female European starlings. Dev Neurobiol. 2008;68:656-68 pubmed publisher
    ..Importantly, females may adjust their choice relative to the prevalence of high quality songs. In European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), females prefer males that primarily sing long songs over those that primarily sing short ..
  17. Engel S, Biebach H, Visser G. Metabolic costs of avian flight in relation to flight velocity: a study in Rose Coloured Starlings (Sturnus roseus, Linnaeus). J Comp Physiol B. 2006;176:415-27 pubmed
    The metabolic costs of flight at a natural range of speeds were investigated in Rose Coloured Starlings (Sturnus roseus, Linnaeus) using doubly labelled water...
  18. Cyr N, Earle K, Tam C, Romero L. The effect of chronic psychological stress on corticosterone, plasma metabolites, and immune responsiveness in European starlings. Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2007;154:59-66 pubmed
    ..and triglyceride concentrations as well as immune responsiveness to a T-cell mitogen challenge in European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris...
  19. Johne R, Fern ndez de Luco D, H fle U, M ller H. Genome of a novel circovirus of starlings, amplified by multiply primed rolling-circle amplification. J Gen Virol. 2006;87:1189-95 pubmed publisher
    ..with degenerate primers, a novel circovirus (starling circovirus, StCV) was detected in spleen samples of wild starlings (Sturnus vulgaris and Sturnus unicolor) found dead during an epidemic outbreak of septicaemic salmonellosis in ..
  20. Bertin A, Hausberger M, Henry L, Richard Yris M. Adult and peer influences on starling song development. Dev Psychobiol. 2007;49:362-74 pubmed
    ..We investigated the influence of the young/adult ratio on song learning in European starlings. Starling songs are composed of two categories: whistles and warbling...
  21. Brawn T, Nusbaum H, Margoliash D. Sleep-dependent consolidation of auditory discrimination learning in adult starlings. J Neurosci. 2010;30:609-13 pubmed publisher
    ..European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) were trained to discriminate between segments of novel starling song and retested after ..
  22. Kelm Nelson C, Riters L. Curvilinear relationships between mu-opioid receptor labeling and undirected song in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Brain Res. 2013;1527:29-39 pubmed publisher
    ..we used immunohistochemistry to examine relationships between undirected song and mu-opioid receptors in male starlings. Polynomial regression analyses revealed significant inverted-U shaped relationships between measures of ..
  23. Stevenson T, Calabrese M, Ball G. Variation in enkephalin immunoreactivity in the social behavior network and song control system of male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) is dependent on breeding state and gonadal condition. J Chem Neuroanat. 2012;43:87-95 pubmed publisher
    ..Using immunocytochemistry, we examined variation in enkephalin immunoreactivity (ENK-ir) in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) that were in breeding conditions (i.e. photostimulated) or non-breeding conditions (i.e...
  24. Kauffman M, Lejeune J. European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) challenged with Escherichia coli O157 can carry and transmit the human pathogen to cattle. Lett Appl Microbiol. 2011;53:596-601 pubmed publisher
    European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) are an invasive species in the United States and are considered a nuisance pest to agriculture...
  25. Dawson A. Control of molt in birds: association with prolactin and gonadal regression in starlings. Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2006;147:314-22 pubmed
    ..Despite the importance of molt to birds, very little is known about its environmental or physiological control. In starlings Sturnus vulgaris, and other species, under both natural conditions and experimental regimes, gonadal regression ..
  26. Pawlisch B, Riters L. Selective behavioral responses to male song are affected by the dopamine agonist GBR-12909 in female European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Brain Res. 2010;1353:113-24 pubmed publisher
    ..Female European starlings were played recordings of long starling song (presumed high incentive value), short starling song (presumed ..
  27. Heimovics S, Riters L. ZENK labeling within social behavior brain regions reveals breeding context-dependent patterns of neural activity associated with song in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Behav Brain Res. 2007;176:333-43 pubmed
    ..In male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), breeding context song is sexually motivated, whereas, non-breeding context song is more ..
  28. Irvine D, Brown M, Kamke M, Rubel E. Effects of restricted basilar papillar lesions and hair cell regeneration on auditory forebrain frequency organization in adult European starlings. J Neurosci. 2009;29:6871-82 pubmed publisher
    The frequency organization of neurons in the forebrain Field L complex (FLC) of adult starlings was investigated to determine the effects of hair cell (HC) destruction in the basal portion of the basilar papilla (BP) and of subsequent HC ..
  29. Carter J, Lyons N, Cole H, Goldsmith A. Subtle cues of predation risk: starlings respond to a predator's direction of eye-gaze. Proc Biol Sci. 2008;275:1709-15 pubmed publisher
    ..We present wild-caught European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) with human 'predators' whose frontal appearance and gaze direction are manipulated ..
  30. Sockman K, Gentner T, Ball G. Complementary neural systems for the experience-dependent integration of mate-choice cues in European starlings. J Neurobiol. 2005;62:72-81 pubmed
    ..Female European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) prefer males that sing predominantly long-bout songs over males that sing predominantly short-..
  31. Dickens M, Romero L, Cyr N, Dunn I, Meddle S. Chronic stress alters glucocorticoid receptor and mineralocorticoid receptor mRNA expression in the European starling (Sturnus vulgaris) brain. J Neuroendocrinol. 2009;21:832-40 pubmed publisher
    ..In wild-caught European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), chronic stress alters the responsiveness of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis as ..
  32. George I, Cousillas H, Richard J, Hausberger M. Auditory responses in the HVC of anesthetized starlings. Brain Res. 2005;1047:245-60 pubmed which the HVC neurons responded correspond to sounds that are important in the everyday social life of the starlings. We thus discuss our results in relation to the social life of these birds, to possible species differences in ..
  33. Riters L, Olesen K, Auger C. Evidence that female endocrine state influences catecholamine responses to male courtship song in European starlings. Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2007;154:137-49 pubmed
    Little is known about the neural control of female responses to male courtship. Female European starlings in breeding condition with high concentrations of estrogen select mates based on variation in song and approach nest boxes ..
  34. Van Meir V, Pavlova D, Verhoye M, Pinxten R, Balthazart J, Eens M, et al. In vivo MR imaging of the seasonal volumetric and functional plasticity of song control nuclei in relation to song output in a female songbird. Neuroimage. 2006;31:981-92 pubmed
    ..Following MnCl(2)-injections in HVC (used as proper name) of female starlings, in vivo tract-tracing by Manganese Enhanced-Magnetic Resonance Imaging (ME-MRI) provided repeated measures of ..
  35. Williams M, Pearl D, LeJeune J. Multiple-locus variable-nucleotide tandem repeat subtype analysis implicates European starlings as biological vectors for Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Ohio, USA. J Appl Microbiol. 2011;111:982-8 pubmed publisher
    ..Escherichia coli O157:H7 between dairy farms in Ohio, this study was designed to identify genetic relatedness between isolates originating from bovine faecal samples and intestinal contents of European starlings captured on these farms.
  36. Sockman K, Ball G. Independent effects of song quality and experience with photostimulation on expression of the immediate, early gene ZENK (EGR-1) in the auditory telencephalon of female European starlings. Dev Neurobiol. 2009;69:339-49 pubmed publisher
    ..In female European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) that do not differ in age, experimental manipulation of photostimulation experience (..
  37. Heimovics S, Cornil C, Ball G, Riters L. D1-like dopamine receptor density in nuclei involved in social behavior correlates with song in a context-dependent fashion in male European starlings. Neuroscience. 2009;159:962-73 pubmed publisher
    ..examine the relationship between DA receptor density and singing behavior in multiple contexts in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)...
  38. Zuccon D, Cibois A, Pasquet E, Ericson P. Nuclear and mitochondrial sequence data reveal the major lineages of starlings, mynas and related taxa. Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2006;41:333-44 pubmed
    ..We identified three major lineages of starlings: the Philippine endemic genus Rhabdornis, an Oriental-Australasian clade (genera Scissirostrum, Gracula, Mino, ..
  39. Gaukler S, Linz G, Sherwood J, Dyer N, Bleier W, Wannemuehler Y, et al. Escherichia coli, Salmonella, and Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis in wild European starlings at a Kansas cattle feedlot. Avian Dis. 2009;53:544-51 pubmed
    ..and Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolated from the feces of wild European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) humanely trapped at a feedlot in central Kansas was assessed. All E...
  40. Colles F, Dingle K, Cody A, Maiden M. Comparison of Campylobacter populations in wild geese with those in starlings and free-range poultry on the same farm. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008;74:3583-90 pubmed publisher
    ..multilocus sequence typing and were compared with isolates collected from free-range broiler chickens and wild starlings sampled at the same location...
  41. Pompilio L, Kacelnik A. Context-dependent utility overrides absolute memory as a determinant of choice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010;107:508-12 pubmed publisher
    ..We show that starlings' choices are better explained by memory for context-dependent utility than by representations of the ..
  42. Van den Steen E, Covaci A, Jaspers V, Dauwe T, Voorspoels S, Eens M, et al. Accumulation, tissue-specific distribution and debromination of decabromodiphenyl ether (BDE 209) in European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Environ Pollut. 2007;148:648-53 pubmed
    ..BDE 209 accumulated in the blood of the exposed starlings to a mean peak concentration of 16+/-4.1 ng/ml on day 10. After this peak, there was a decline to 3.3+/-0...
  43. Van Hout A, Eens M, Balthazart J, Pinxten R. Complex modulation of singing behavior by testosterone in an open-ended learner, the European Starling. Horm Behav. 2009;56:564-73 pubmed publisher
    ..detailed comparison of song complexity and song rate between fall and spring in 6-year-old intact male European starlings. In parallel, we investigated whether potential seasonal changes were regulated by the gonadally induced ..
  44. De Groof G, Gwinner H, Steiger S, Kempenaers B, Van der Linden A. Neural correlates of behavioural olfactory sensitivity changes seasonally in European starlings. PLoS ONE. 2010;5:e14337 pubmed publisher
    ..During courtship and nest building, male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) incorporate aromatic herbs that are rich in volatile compounds (e.g...
  45. Van Hout A, Eens M, Pinxten R. Carotenoid supplementation positively affects the expression of a non-visual sexual signal. PLoS ONE. 2011;6:e16326 pubmed publisher
    ..dietary carotenoid supplementation on overall song rate during the non-breeding season in captive male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)...
  46. Bertin A, Hausberger M, Henry L, Richard Yris M. Adult: young ratio influences song acquisition in female European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). J Comp Psychol. 2009;123:195-203 pubmed publisher
    ..Here, the authors analyzed song learning and spatial associations among young female starlings that were maintained for 1 year in dyads (1 adult, 1 young), triads (2 adults, 1 young) or a larger group (7 ..
  47. Vasconcelos M, Monteiro T, Aw J, Kacelnik A. Choice in multi-alternative environments: a trial-by-trial implementation of the sequential choice model. Behav Processes. 2010;84:435-9 pubmed publisher
    ..To further challenge the model, we trained and tested European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) in an environment with a background of four alternatives differing in delay to reinforcement...
  48. Wiersma P, Salomons H, Verhulst S. Metabolic adjustments to increasing foraging costs of starlings in a closed economy. J Exp Biol. 2005;208:4099-108 pubmed
    ..the foraging costs and studied effects on daily energy expenditure (DEE) and energy allocation of captive starlings Sturnus vulgaris. Birds in a closed economy earned their food by flying between two perches 5 m apart...
  49. Kelm Nelson C, Stevenson S, Riters L. Context-dependent links between song production and opioid-mediated analgesia in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). PLoS ONE. 2012;7:e46721 pubmed publisher
    ..Consistent with this prediction, in male starlings we identified a positive correlation between analgesia (decreased reactivity to a hot water bath) and undirected ..
  50. Riters L, Schroeder M, Auger C, Eens M, Pinxten R, Ball G. Evidence for opioid involvement in the regulation of song production in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Behav Neurosci. 2005;119:245-55 pubmed
    ..possible role for opioid neuropeptides in motivation and reward associated with song production in male European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Peripheral opioid blockade facilitated male song production...
  51. Kordonowy L, McMurtry J, Williams T. Variation in plasma leptin-like immunoreactivity in free-living European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2010;166:47-53 pubmed publisher
    ..leptin-like immunoreactivity during the reproductive and non-reproductive seasons in free-living female European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Plasma leptin-like immunoreactivity was high during egg-laying (27.8+/-2...
  52. Cyr N, Romero L. Fecal glucocorticoid metabolites of experimentally stressed captive and free-living starlings: implications for conservation research. Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2008;158:20-8 pubmed publisher
    ..Therefore, we experimentally induced chronic stress in both captive and free-living European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)...
  53. Sartor J, Ball G. Social suppression of song is associated with a reduction in volume of a song-control nucleus in European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Behav Neurosci. 2005;119:233-44 pubmed
    ..tested whether singing can lead to activity-dependent increases in HVC volume by examining song output in starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)...